Europa League: Arsenal, Everton relish venturing into uncharted territories after group-stage draw
Officials from Arsenal and Everton were both relishing the prospect of new frontiers after the Europa League groups were drawn on Friday.
London: Officials from Arsenal and Everton were both relishing the prospect of new frontiers after the Europa League groups were drawn on Friday.
Although the Gunners are missing out on Champions League football for the first time in 20 years, a club spokesperson told Reuters that it was a good opportunity to take the players and fans to new destinations after they were drawn in group H with Belarus champions BATE Borisov, Red Star Belgrade of Serbia and FC Cologne of Germany.
“It’s a strong group with some fascinating ties and some trips to new clubs and countries for our fans,” the spokesperson said. “We are all looking forward to the competition getting underway in September.”
Arsenal, who finished as runners up in the competition in 2000, begin this season’s European campaign at home against Cologne on 14 September.
Everton, meanwhile, make their return to European competition after three years and will face a stern test in group E alongside last season’s semi-finalists Olympique Lyonnais, Serie A side Atalanta and Apollon Limassol of Cyprus.
Manager Ronald Koeman, who led Everton to the tournament in his debut season on Merseyside, was aware of the difficulties posed by the French and Italian sides.
“It is a good, strong group. Lyon is a strong team and Atalanta an Italian team that is also strong,” he said.
“I think all the teams are in good parts of Europe, where it’s easy to travel to. It’s tough but it’s tough for everybody.”
Euro 2020: England's Bukayo Saka urges social media platforms to step up efforts in fight against online racial abuse
After the 19-year-old's spot-kick was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma to seal Italy's triumph at Wembley on Sunday, the Arsenal star was targeted by trolls online along with teammates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who also missed penalties.
The move appears to form part of a rebuilding process at the north London side, with Belgium defender Alderweireld leaving despite having two years left on his contract.
No fee has been disclosed but British media reported value the deal at £34 million ($47 million) rising to £48 million with add-ons.